by Reporter, Srikumar S. RaoCHALLENGE
Much like typical business executives these days, doctors and nurses are too busy to read much, and frequently not at their desks when they need to access information.
Win Morgan, Marketing Director for NHLBI Health Information Network Project, is in charge of getting critical NIH studies and data to healthcare professionals in a format they can use when they need to use it.
First he tried boiling long reports into shorted key findings and distributed them via laminated cards physicians could carry in their pockets. These were easy to lose, a bit costly, and let's face it, pulling out a laminated info card in front of your patient does not make you look smart.
Then Morgan spotted a trend, especially among younger healthcare workers.
Instead of carrying paper notepads and books, they used Palms. "People were calling it their electronic brain."
In fact, there was already an underground movement afoot amongst the doctors themselves to translate some NIH guidelines into Palm programs that they shared amongst each other. Morgan wondered; could Palms replace paper and email distribution of critical materials? If so, what are best practices in creating a program your prospects will like, and how do you get the word out cost-effectively about it?CAMPAIGN
First Morgan hired a consultant who was an Palm expert and also a physician to help create the first few programs.
Together with his in-house tech team, they evolved a set of 11 guidelines for creating user-friendly programs for Palms:
Do not crowd the screen. Use lots of white space. It is a good idea to use only 30% to 40% of available space for text and graphics.
Put the headline about a third of the way down from the top of the screen. A typical Palm screen can hold 14 lines so the headline should be about line 5. His usability studies showed that that is where subjects' eyes focused. "Put a good headline on your prime real estate," advises Morgan.
"Scrolling is bad." Avoid vertical scrolling. Do not have horizontal scrolling under ANY circumstances.
Choose your fonts carefully. Good fonts are Arial, Universal and Verdana. Use sans serif fonts. Do not use cursive fonts such as Coronet or Lucida.
This is opposite to advice given by print direct marketers. "In direct [print] marketing, you use 8 1/2" by 11" paper and the serif fonts help move your eyes along," says Morgan. "Here you have a small screen and limited space."
Make sure navigation is easy. Underline all hyperlinks. Use a shallow format. Do not have more than three screens between the reader and where he wants to go. Do not have more than four choices per screen.
Make sure that downloading and installation is easy. Many downloaded programs are never used because installation is complicated. Give clear download instructions step-by-step installation instructions that can be printed.
Good idea to include installation instructions as a text file separate from the program.
Some people like the convenience of self-extracting zip files while others enjoy the added security of non-self-extracting zip files, so offer both.
Make sure that you have a tech support contact featured on the screen, and in your download marketing copy. Otherwise calls for help go to marketing and other divisions. The problem is not resolved and the customer gets annoyed.
Pocket PCs are becoming a popular format so make sure your programs work on them as well as Palm OS5.
"Be interactive", says Morgan. "Get the reader involved."
This means including internal-hotlinks within the document so people can click about inside of it instead of having to scroll through screens looking for what they want.
It also means offering Palm programs for useful (or fun) interactive tools, such as diagnosis tool, a quiz, a cost estimate, a "wizard" of some type. If you already have interactive tools to engage prospects and customers on your site, try transferring them to Palm format.
However, this does not mean building in a whole lot of interactivity with the Web itself. Most Palms and Pocket PCs are too slow to give a good user experience when visiting a site. This will change someday.
Write out the URL for any Web hyperlinks. Do not just underline a word or make an icon clickable. Many users will not click because they know how slow the Web is via their PDA. Instead they will carry their PDA to their regular PC, log on and type in the URL from the screen. Make sure it is visible.
Go to Palm's site and download their no-cost Palm Emulator program. This handy tool lets you see what your program will look like when displayed on a Palm; very useful during the design process to see what needs to be tweaked for better usability.
Next, Morgan used five marketing and publicity tactics to get the word out about these new programs. He did not have much of a budget, so he mainly relied on guerilla tactics.
-> Tactic a) Post your program on shareware sites
Morgan posted offers for his program downloads on more than a half-dozen sites that are frequented by heavy PDA users, including:
- Palm Boulevard
- Yahoo Mobile
These sites offer thousands, even tens of thousands, or downloads, so you have to craft your offer carefully to stand out. Morgan used four tactics to get the most downloads possible:
1. Uploading a newly revised version frequently. Often new
versions will get more prominent placement from sites'
2. Copywrite your title using terms and words that work well
for you in search marketing. These are terms that catch
prospect's eyes and speak to their hearts.
3. If you have got a strong brand name, make sure it is included
in the title as well.
4. Really copywrite your download offer page so the highest
number of clicks wind up converting to downloads.
Never assume that because they clicked and your offer
does not cost anything that they will take you up on it.
The majority of clicks will leave without downloading,
you have to work to "sell" them on converting.
-> Tactic b) Email newsletter
Morgan sent a message to his house list, the Health Information Network, of more than 70,000 healthcare professionals and interested consumers. (Note how the clever title makes the list sound more important than a mere email newsletter.)
He had already worked to turn them from simply readers into true "information evangelists" by continually asking them to forward issues to their friends and colleagues, and asking them to report back to him about the great ways they spread the word.
"We position the reason to join our list is to be a true information infomediary in your community. In each email we say, 'Please send us an email telling me how you use this or pass it along.' We regularly get notes saying, 'I broadcast this on my TV station,' or 'I put this in my newsletter.'"
-> Tactic c) Guerrilla online publicity
Morgan had already built a database of contact info for all the industry email discussion groups, bulletin boards and newsletters. Now he began to work it, asking moderators, association execs, newsletter editors, etc., if they would tell their members about the new no-cost download.
His download sounded valuable, so they frequently did.
-> Tactic d) Get your program included on CD ROMs
Many magazines, such as ZD Net and PC Magazine, and associations produce CD ROMs with bundles of software that they give away to readers. Approach them and ask to have your program included.
-> Tactic e) Beam your program to trade show attendee's PDAs
If people in your industry walk a trade show floor carrying a Palm or Pocket PC, ask them if you can beam your program to it right there and then. Morgan set up at least one, and often two, "beaming stations" in his trade show booths and made sure all passersby were offered programs.
About 10,000 healthcare pros download one of Morgan's PDA programs every month. The total downloads since the offer first launched 18 months ago is now at 245,003.
Imagine if you could get a similar number of sales prospects to download your offering!
- Improving usability by making your on-screen presentation more attractive and interactive can really help. Morgan found cleaning up his format grew downloads by as much as a factor of five.
- Trade show attendees loved the idea of getting a new download beamed to them on the spot.
- Morgan's download site gets about 70,000 visitors per month. The primary driver is links from shareware sites. In fact Morgan gets more traffic from shareware sites than from search engines even though the site is optimized.
- The number of visitors and sales at Morgan's related ecommerce site (where NIH sells printed copies of reports and data) has also risen dramatically due to Palm and Pocket PC users who notice the URL in their downloads and visit when they get a chance to get to a Net-connected computer.
- A fan following has been created. Morgan regularly gets email from physicians telling him how much they love his programs. Some of them have received awards for being user-friendly.
- NHLBI saves nearly $500,000 a year in printing and mailing costs because they are sending out fewer laminated cards and printed reports.
1. See the compelling copywriting Morgan uses on a download page to convince visitors to convert to downloaders: http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/haac_palm/haac_palm.htm
2. Service Morgan uses to create and distribute his email newsletter: http://www.mailworkz.com